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Life term for '84 accused

Jiby Kattakayam

Mahesh was part of mob that burnt four Sikhs to death

— Photo: PTI

Convicted:Mahesh alias Dabbu being taken to Tihar Jail from the Karkardooma court in New Delhi on Monday.

NEW DELHI: A court here on Monday awarded life imprisonment to a man convicted of involvement in the murder of four Sikhs at Trilokpuri in the Capital during the anti-Sikh riots that followed the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Complainant Vidya Kaur, who was one of 12 prosecution witnesses, had identified Mahesh alias Dabbu as a member of the mob which on November 3, 1984, burnt to death her husband Jaswant Singh, his nephew Anokha Singh, his colleague Satnam Singh and their neighbour Bhajan Singh.

Additional Sessions Judge P. S. Teji in his judgment said: “Prosecution has established on record beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was the member of an unlawful assembly at the time of commission of offence and entered into the house of complainant. Prosecution has also established that after entering into the complainant's house, being a member of the unlawful assembly Mahesh alias Dabbu committed the murder of Jaswant Singh, Satnam Singh, Anokha Singh and Bhajan Singh.”

However, the judge did not agree with the prosecution's contention that this was among the “rarest of rare” cases meriting maximum punishment. Mahesh's counsel argued for a lesser sentence saying the case was 27 years old and that he had already undergone a lengthy trial.

During the trial, Mahesh had alleged that he was being implicated by Ms. Kaur due to previous enmity between him and her husband. His counsel also argued that he was only a part of the mob and no specific role had been attributed to him.

This is Mahesh's second conviction in the case. On January 30, 1997, a trial court had convicted Mahesh and Baleshwar, who later died, to life imprisonment while acquitting two other accused, Mange Ram and Amir Khan.

Mahesh successfully appealed against the sentence in the Delhi High Court, which remanded the case back to the trial court on December 8 on the ground that Mahesh did not get an opportunity to cross-examine Ms. Kaur over her statement recorded at the Kalyanpuri police station on November 8, 1984. The court gave Mahesh one opportunity to cross-examine her.

Ms. Kaur had difficulty registering a case after her husband's death. Finally in September 1985 she filed an affidavit with the Ranganath Mishra Commission where she named Mahesh, Baleshwar, Mange Ram and Amir Khan as the persons the murders. The Commission noted that Ms. Kaur's statement was not recorded “carefully and in an intelligent manner” and the charge-sheet, based on the FIR registered at the Kalyanpuri police station on November 8, 1984, did not mention any of the murders committed in the area. Consequently, in view of the recommendations of the Commission, a fresh FIR was registered in 1991 against the four persons.

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